It scars the grass beside the house, a fresh wound in the lawn. It is a mound of black, the type of black that blends into the night when the day fails. The night seems to start and spread from it.
She sits on a white wicker chair, an elbow on the armrest, her cheeks in her palm. The skin has been collected from one side of her face and dumped on the other. She looks at the fresh wound as if expecting it to heal. She cannot say whether she is awake or dreaming.
Below the wound, at its very heart, is her heart. The heart of her heart. Thoughts swirl in her mind like storm clouds on fast-forward. And they are just as dark.
Are you alright?
Will you come inside now? It is getting cold out here.
I will be there in a minute.
You have to come now, honey. Or you will catch a cold.
OK… will you… will you help me out of this chair?
They stumble into the house. He carries the chair in one hand and holds her shoulder with the other. She can walk by herself, but she feels stronger in his arms. He is all she has now. She looks him in the face as he sets her gently on the sofa in the living room. And she sees him. The other him. The one under the wound in the grass. He must have looked like him. Again, the shaky tanks of tears under her eyes lose control, and gallons pour out.
I could have saved him. It was all my fault.
He sets the chair down and turns around. For a moment, he looks at her pitifully. Then his face sets firm and he speaks, almost harshly. She could not have done anything to save him, he says. It wasn’t her fault, and she better stop groveling and start living again. She will die of grief, he tells her, if she doesn’t let the grief leave her. Then he softens and lowers himself onto the sofa beside her. His arm goes around her shoulder.
His voice is soft.
Everything will be alright. I am here for you.
She sets her head on his ample shoulders and lets her tears flow, marking two dark lines down his white shirt where the wet fabric sticks to his chest. He lets her, and pities her. And sometimes he feels guilty for not being like her in her in moments like this. But he has his moments too. Like when he is in the shower and the miserable truth hits him like a freight train, and he curses heaven and earth, and swears to tear God to shreds. But when he is near her, he has to act up. For the both of them. She is all he has left now.
Her body trembles in sobs beside him, the spasms rocking him. And he remembers that other time, those other trembles, when he found her sprawled on the floor in mortifying agony. He had carried her. He got the scratches that are now just healing on his brow from her. Her pain was too much. She was tearing at everything. When he got her to the hospital the doctor shook his head. It was too late. They would be fighting for her life, not for the other.
What pain do you compare with that? What disillusionment do you array beside it for scale? Which part of the world do you seek comparisons from? He remembers his sorrow, and the tears threaten to come out again. Halfway to his eyes, his free hand jerks impulsively, and he rests it on her hair, strokes it backwards. He cannot cry here. A single tear drops on the neglected strands.
It’s alright. We will be fine.
His mother had come. And her mother. And his father. And hers. And their siblings and grandparents and uncles. All had said how sorry they were. But when she woke up she asked for him. And he told her he was no more, that he did not want to breathe the free air, did not want to drink free water, or cast free votes. That he had been fine with coming close and then slipping away. She had thought she was dreaming and had gone back to sleep.
Now she has her head in the crook of his neck. And she knows she wasn’t dreaming then, but wishes she had been. She feels, nay hears, his pain right in his chest. She knows he’s been suffering too. And now he knows she knows, and he can hide it no longer. The tears pour down, matting her hair together. For a long time they stay like that, the sorry picture of a human ruin.
Feature image: Source unknown.
Sign up to receive new articles as soon as they drop.